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Hackenberg Leads Penn State over Illinois, 39-0

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State defense limited Illinois to just 167 yards of offense and quarterbackChristian Hackenberg(Palmyra, Va.) threw for two touchdowns and caught another as the Nittany Lions cruised to a 39-0 victory over the Fighting Illini Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium. The shutout was Penn State's first since 2013 and first in the Big Ten since 2009.

Penn State improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten for first time since 2012, and its margin of victory was the largest against a Big Ten opponent in a shutout since a 49-0 win vs. Northwestern in 2002. It was also Penn State's largest win in a Big Ten game since a 41-point win (48-7) at Wisconsin in 2008.

The 167 yards of offense (37 rushing, 130 passing) by Illinois (4-4, 1-3 Big Ten) was the fewest allowed by the Nittany Lions this year, and the fewest since holding Minnesota to 138 yards (37 rushing, 101 passing) in 2009. The Fighting Illini entered the game leading the Big Ten in protecting the quarterback, but yielded a season-high four sacks.

The Nittany Lions extended their sack streak to 31 consecutive games - the most consecutive games with a recorded sack since sacks became an official NCAA statistic in 2000.

Carl Nassib(West Chester, Pa.), who entered the game as the national sack leader, extended his own streak to nine games with a second-half sack. He now has 14.5 for the season, which is just a half-sack short of the Penn State single-season record. Fellow linemenAustin Johnson(Galloway, N.J.) andAnthony Zettel(West Branch, Mich.) also recorded a sack, whileCurtis Cothran(Newtown, Pa.) andParker Cothren(Huntsville, Ala.) both assisted on a sack.

LinebackerJason Cabinda(Flemington, N.J.) led the team with seven tackles. Additionally, 10 different Lions totaled nine tackles for loss for the 16th straight game with at least 5.0 TFLs, which is the longest since a 38-game streak from 1997 to 2000.

Hackenberg set a Penn State record with his 19th career 200-plus yard passing game, totaling 266 yards and two touchdowns after completing 21-of-29 passing attempts. He also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from running backNick Scott(Fairfax, Va.), and left the game early in the fourth quarter with Penn State comfortably ahead. Hackenberg is the first Penn State quarterback with a touchdown catch since Zack Mills against Akron in 2004. In his last six games, Hackenberg has 12 touchdown passes, one touchdown reception, no interceptions and four games with at least 250 yards passing.

Hackenberg's top targets wereChris Godwin(Middletown, Del.) andDaeSean Hamilton(Fredericksburg, Va.). Godwin tied a career best with seven receptions, including one touchdown reception and a total of 76 yards. Hamilton had four catches, giving him 110 for his career and moving him into a tie with Bryant Johnson for ninth place at Penn State.

Running backSaquon Barkley(Coplay, Pa.) led the game with 142 all-purpose yards, rushing 24 times for 84 yards and a touchdown, while also catching a career-high three passes for a career-best 58 yards.

Defensive back Clayton Fejedelem led Illinois with 13 tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked extra point. Quarterback Wes Lunt was held to 129 yards on 16-of-29 passing with one interception.

Penn State found the end zone on its second drive for the game's first score. A career long 31-yard reception byDeAndre Thompkins(Hubert, N.C.) moved the Nittany Lions into Illini territory, and a 19-yard reception by Barkley advanced the Lions to the Illinois 6. After a pair of rushes placed the ball on the 5, Hackenberg zipped a pass through traffic over the middle to Godwin with 5:52 remaining in the quarter. The extra point try was blocked.

Lunt was intercepted at midfield on Illinois' ensuing possession byTroy Reeder(Wilmington, Del.) It was the first pick of Reeder's career and he returned it 44 yards to the Illinois 6. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Hackenberg lofted a pass to Lewis along the left sideline in the end zone, and Lewis leapt, pulled it down and got one foot in bounds for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked again though, giving Penn State a 12-0 lead with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter.

Penn State forced an Illinois punt and drove into Illini territory early in the second quarter, but Thompkins was stripped of the football, ending the drive at the Illinois 37. Both teams would trade punts though untilTyler Davis(St. Charles, Ill.) converted a 42-yard field goal with 4:16 remaining in the half. Penn State would take a 15-0 lead into the locker room.

The Nittany Lions would receive the kickoff to start the second half andKoa Farmer(Lake View Terrace, Calif.) returned it from the end zone a career-long 57 yards to the Illinois 43, setting up a seven-play touchdown drive. The Lions converted a pair of third-and-longs on the drive as Hackenberg connected with Hamilton on 16-yard pass on third-and-10 from the 43, and again on a 19-yard pass on third-and-16 from the 33.

The latter setup a 14-yard touchdown pass by Scott to Hackenberg, who rolled out down the left sideline, wide open after handing off to Scott. It gave Penn State a 22-0 lead with 11:18 remaining in the third quarter and was the first reception by a Nittany Lion quarterback since Matt McGloin had a 16-yard catch fromCurtis Drakeagainst Nebraska in 2011, and the first touchdown reception by a quarterback since Zack Mills had an 18-yard touchdown reception from Michael Robinson in the 2004 season opener against Akron.

Davis added a 28-yard field goal with 3:56 remaining in the quarter for a 25-0 lead, and Barkley capped a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive with a 7-yard scoring run after hurdling Illinois defenders and losing a shoe at the goal line.

Mark Allen(Hyattsville, Md.) added a career-long 20-yard touchdown run with 6:33 remaining for the final margin.

Penn State will take on Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) in Evanston next Saturday. Kickoff time and network coverage will be announced Sunday.

The Lions will enjoy a bye week and travel to Michigan State before returning to Beaver Stadium to host Michigan in the home finale and annual "White Out" Game Nov. 21. To purchase tickets or for information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit, call 1-800-NITTANY or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.




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